Six Traits of Highly Successful DZO’s

Traits of Highly Successful DZO's

This article was published in the January issue of Blue Skies Magazine. 

The Six Traits of Highly Successful DZO’s

After more than four years of working with DZO’s from every size DZ, I have noted six distinct characteristics associated with a DZ’s health both financially and culturally. 

The six traits of the most successful DZO’s exhibit the following: 

- Self-Awareness 
- Clear Vision
- Builds Strong Teams
- Focuses on the Big and Small Details
- Data Driven
- Thick Skinned
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Too many DZO’s have their hands in too many things. As a startup DZ, this can be good as it keeps expenses down, but as the business scales, a team must be created; otherwise, burnout is assured.


If a DZO is burnt out and mentally exhausted, then it’s a battle for that business to reach its potential. The success of a DZ is predicated by a DZO’s self-awareness to recognize mental exhaustion and to actively step away from their business to maintain needed objectivity to handle the strains of running a drop zone. 

No one is immune from high levels of stress for extended periods of time. Stress kills the passion and attention to detail begins to fade followed by a DZ’s culture.  

The DZO is the life force, and that force needs to be positive and healthy for the operation to grow. Those with self-awareness understand this and take the necessary steps to maintain perspective. 

A Clear Vision

The best DZO’s have a vision for the organization clearly expressed as well as a list of core values shared with all.

This vision is shared from the DZO and is clearly defined. In other words, what is the moral compass for the operation? What is the modus operandi? What are the DZO’s expectations? Without a roadmap or guidepost, the journey will be rough. 

When everyone shares a common goal and shared values, the organization is a more fulfilling place for all. 

Fixing a Skyvan

Builds a Strong Team

Too many DZO’s have their hands in too many things. As a startup DZ, this can be good as it keeps expenses down, but as the business scales, a team must be created; otherwise, burnout is assured. 

The best DZO’s recognize that they can’t do it all and must begin to build a team based on both skill and personality. 

Focuses on the Big and Small Details

The best marketing begins when people arrive at a business, not just what you did to get them there.  

DZO’s that understand the value of creating an experience beyond the skydive generate a powerful marketing undercurrent. This is an investment into a business’ long-term survival and is something that DZ staff want to be part of. 

The best DZO’s recognize that it’s minute details that create a great experience far beyond the skydive itself. 

Data Driven

Numbers don’t lie, and the best DZO’s know them inside and out from the actual cost of a tandem to statistics on Google. Having a good grasp of the numbers allows a DZO to make sound decisions for the business. 

Burble Manifest Software

Thick Skinned

Everyone has an opinion, and many aren’t afraid of expressing how a DZO should run a business. With thoughts, ideas and criticisms coming in from all sides, plus the financial strains of having to fix very expensive things, a DZO has to be very thick skinned to make it in this business. 

Notice a Trend? 

All of these traits combat a theme mentioned several times in this articleburnout. If I were to write a DZO handbook, it would highlight this issue much more. This topic is seldom talked about but is an issue that every skydiving operator must address if longevity is a desire.  

Have questions? E-mail me!

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About James La Barrie

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.

4 thoughts on “Six Traits of Highly Successful DZO’s”

  1. A good dzso need to be intuitive and have the ability to very quickly THINK calmly while running. So often situations arise at the dz either between staff, or staff and client that can escalate into an uncomfortable situation. It can result in a negative vibe and atmosphere developing at the dz or reflect poorly on the dz as a while. The dzso need to be quickly observant of this and be able to”nip”things in the bud It may also mean that the dzso is able to defer negative outcomes from these situations to a more suitable time of the day.

      1. James and Steve my friends thank you for sharing your experience and insights you have seen about drop zones. I myself as part of a team have noticed stress and strain within myself and in other members and am not sure how to broach the subject within our operation.

        Symptoms have been identified that I experienced since June last year and I try to alleviate the pressure lately by making sure I attend more family events that I used to let go by and let the dz get by without me as the place can swallow you up that much that you wish you weren’t here.
        It’s only a bandaid at present but I’m trying to work out a way for us all to be less stressed. I’m a 15 hour a week cleaner, customer liason, ground crew assistant and many other things and I do more usually voluntarily because of my passion but there is no real back up for me and even my jumping suffers from too much ground work.

        We have just had our big V8 Clipsal 500 motor race and I connected with over 200 people (probably more but it is meant to be a mini holiday for me and don’t take a count of everyone who gets attracted by my skydive designer clothes etc and we eventually broach the subject of skydiving), I do this because of my passion and no real support but I have become a fixture at this race that people seek me out which is good. More involvement by others would also help connect future customers to us because of the large numbers at this race. We can’t always rely on social media you sometimes need to be in their face.

        The race is also a stress release for me as I am an honorary member of a race team and are treated as part of the family by that racing class.

        It’s just sad that not long after returning to the dz that many problems haven’t been broached and as much as I love with passion the interaction to all our drop zone visitors with making them feel special for the day I do notice that this part is starting to be outweighed by the not so smooth running and the very few that handle many tasks.
        Hi to Sue and Marcey Eddy and Lenny the galah the Spirit of Lower Light.

        1. Eddy – we miss you! We think so much of you and hope our paths will cross again soon. Continue being a bright light to those around you!

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